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in a brown coat and flax-coloured scratch-wig, | him some halfpence for his trouble-prudently
assured him that his cargo was invaluabletold him to wait for me at the corner, and next moment was across the street, with a fast hold of the Slasher's right hand.
perched upon a high office stool. Considering his dimensions, I used to marvel much how he managed to get there. Holding out his forefinger, which I dutifully grasped, he told me to be steady and attentive, and that my aunt would be happy to see me upstairs. On leaving the room, I heard him softly remark to the head clerk, that he did not much like my appearance, for that I had a wild eye in my head."
I was duly put to the desk, and the course of trial was not flattering to me, or satisfactory to my intended master. It was allowed on all hands that my writing was abominable; and my spelling, being untrammelled by rules, was found in many material points to differ from modern orthographers. Nor was I more successful in comparing deeds-my desk and stool were unluckily placed beside a window which looked into a narrow court, and a strawbonnet maker occupied the opposite apartment. She was pretty, and I was naturally polite and who with a rosy cheek before him would waste a look upon a tawny skin of parchment? I mentally consigned the deed to the devil, and let the copy loose upon the world with all its imperfections on its head."
The Slasher-peace to his ashes! for he was shot stone dead in the Phoenix Park-we never well understood the quarrel in Connemara, and it was said there that the poor man himself was not thoroughly informed on the subjectappeared determined to support his justlyacquired reputation at the late fair of Ballinasloe. Not an eye in Capel Street but was turned on him as he swaggered past. His jockey boots-I must begin below-were in the newest style; the top sprang from the ankle-bone, and was met midleg by short tights of tea-coloured leather; three smoothing-iron seals, and a chain that would manacle a deserter dangled from the fob; his vest was of amber kerseymere, gracefully sprinkled with stars and shamrocks; his coat sky-blue, with basket buttons, relieved judiciously with a purple neckcloth, and doeskin gloves; while a conical hat with a leaf full seven inches broad topped all. A feeble imitation of the latter article may still be seen by the curious, in a hatter's window, No. 71 in the Strand, with a label affixed thereto, denominating it Neck or Nothing."
Lord, how proud I felt when the Slasher tucked me under his arm! We had already taken two turns-the admiration of a crowded thoroughfare, when I looked round for my bag-holder; but he was not visible. I left my kinsman hastily, ran up and down the street, looked round the corners, peered into all the public-houses; but neither bag nor boy was there. I recollected my uncle's name and address were written on it, and the urchin might have mistaken his instructions and carried the bag home. Off I ran, tumbled an apple basket in Bolton Street, and spite of threats and curses, held on my desperate course, until I found myself, breathless, in my uncle's presence.
He sternly reproached me for being dilatory. "What had detained me? Here had been Counsellor Leatherhead's servant waiting this half-hour for his papers;-bring in the bag." I gaped at him, and stuttered that I supposed it had been already here; but it would certainly arrive shortly. Question and answer followed rapidly, and the fatal truth came out-the bag was lost!-for the cad, advertised of the value of his charge, had retreated the moment I turned my back; and although, on investigation he must have felt much dis
The first trial was nearly conclusive-for never before had such a lame and lamentable document issued from the office of the punctilious Duncan. I had there omitted setting forth "one hundred dove-cots," and, for ought I know, left out "one hundred castles," to keep them company. My uncle almost dropped from his perch at the discovery; and Counsellor Roundabout was heard to remark, that a man's life was not safe in the hands of such a delinquent. I was on the point of getting my congé, and free permission to return to the place from whence I came; but my auntgood easy woman, interfered-and Duncan consented to give me a farther trial, and employ me to transport his bag to the courts and his briefs to the lawyer.
Any drudgery for me but the desk. With suitable instructions the bag was confided to me, and for three days it came back safely. On the fourth evening I was returning; the bag was unusually full, and so had been my uncle's admonitions for its security. I had got halfway down Capel Street, when, whom should I see on the other side of the way but Slasher Mac Tigue? The Slasher was five akin to my mother, and allowed to be the greatest buck at the last fair of Ballinasloe-and would he acknowledge me, loaded as I was like a Jew clothesman? What was to be done? I slipped the accursed bag to a ragged boy-promised
appointed at the result of his industry, yet, to do him justice, he lost no time in transferring the papers to the tobacconist and pocketing the produce of the same.
To communicate the abrupt termination of my forensic pursuits to my aunt Macan was an affair of nice and delicate management. When acquainted with the unhappy incident which had drawn down the wrath of my uncle Duncan, she particularly inquired "if there had been any money in the lost bag," and re
For some moments Duncan's rage prevented him from speaking. At last he found utterance; "Heaven and earth!" he exclaimed; "was there ever such a villain? He was ruined-all the Kilgobbin title-deeds-Lady! Splashboard's draft of separation-papers of satisfaction for sixteen mortgages of Sir Phelim O'Boyl-What was to be done?" I muttered that I supposed I should be obliged to give Sir Phelim satisfaction myself. "O! curse your satisfaction," said my uncle; "these are your Connaught notions, you desperate do-no-good.quested to see the last "Hue and Cry." What an infernal business to let any one from that barbarous country into my house! Never had but two clients in my life on the other side of the Shannon. I divorced a wife for one; and he died insolvent the very day the decree was pronounced, and costs and money advanced went along with him to the devil. The other quarrelled with me for not taking a bad bill for my demand, and giving a large balance over my claim, in ready cash. I threatened law, and he threatened flagellation. I took courage and sent down a writ; and the sheriff returned a non est inventus, although he was hunting with him for a fortnight. I ran him to execution and got nulla bona on my return. As a last resource I sent a man specially from Dublin: they tossed him in a blanket, and forced him to eat the original; and he came back, half dead, with a civil intimation that if I ever crossed the bridge of Athlone, the defendant would drive as many slugs through my body as there were hoops on a wine-pipe!" I could not help smiling at the simile: the client was a wag; for my uncle in his personal proportions bore a striking resemblance to a quarter-cask.
"But, run every soul of you," he continued, "and try to get some clue by which we may trace the papers.” Away clerk and apprentice started; but their researches were unsuccessful; many a delicate cut of cheese was already encased in my Lady Splashboard's separation bill; and the Kilgobbin title-deeds had issued in subdivisions from the snuff shop, and were making a rapid circle of the metropolis.
My aunt's influence was not sufficient to obtain my pardon, and mollify the attorney; and I was despatched, per mail, to that refugium peccatorum, as Duncan styled Connemara.
The gentle auditor may anticipate that on my return no fatted calf was killed; nor was there "joy in Aztlan," as the poet-laureate
has it. I re-entered Killnacoppal without beat of drum-and indeed my demeanour on this occasion was so modest, that I had been in undisturbed possession of the front attic for two whole days, before my worthy parents were advertised that I had retired from the study of the law, with no future intention to "stick to the woolsack."
God knows whether I should have been enabled to weather the gale of family displeasure, as my aunt had again resumed the mantle of prophecy, when, luckily for me, the representation of the county of Galway became vacant by the sudden decease of Sir Barnabas Bodkin: the honest gentleman being smothered in a hackney-coach returning comfortable from = corporation dinner at Morrison's.
On this distressing event being known. Mr. Denis Darcey of Carrig-a-howley Castle declared himself. He was strongly supported by Mr. Richard Martin, the other member; and his address, from the pen of the latter gentleman. was circulated without delay. In it he set forth his family and pretensions: pledged himself to support Catholic emancipation and the repeal of still fines;-humanely recommended his opponent to provide himself with a coffin previous to the opening of the poll ;--professed strong attachment to the House of Brunswick. and the church by law established; and premised to use his utmost exertions to purify the penal code, by making accidents in duelling amount to justifiable homicide: and abduction of heiresses and dogs, felony without benefit of clergy.
A person of Denis Darcey's constitutional principles was a man after my father's own heart: the Killnacoppal interest was accordingly given him, and I was despatched at the head of sixscore freeholders, "good men and true, untrammelled with tight shoes or tender con sciences, to give our "most sweet voices," in the ancient town of Galway.
But I was not intrusted with this important command without receiving full instructions for my conduct on the occasion. My father. no doubt, would have led the Killnacoppsl legion to the hustings in person, had it not happened that the sheriff was on the other side: and, therefore, his public appearance within
the bailiwick of that redoubted personage would | the Army List, and discovered she had divers have been a dangerous experiment. "Frank," said my father, "don't overdo the thing: poll your men twice! and more cannot be expected; but mind the outwork, for it's there the tinints will shine."
relatives in my corps; for there was scarcely a family from Loughrea to Belmullet with whom she was not in some way connected. Some of her relations in the South Mayo she mentioned as being rather remote; but there was Captain Rattigan: his father, Luke Rattigan of Rawnacreeva, married Peter Fogarty's third daughter; and Peter Fogarty and my aunt Macan were cousins-german. No doubt the gallant captain would know and acknowledge the relationship, and take that lively interest in my welfare which was natural; but, for fear of mistakes, she wrote a letter of introduction with me, having very fortunately danced fifteen years before with the said Mr. Rattigan, at a fair ball at Ballinasloe.
I obeyed him to the letter; and without personal vanity, I ascribe the happy return of my esteemed friend Denis Darcey to the unwearied exertions of the freeholders of Killnacoppal. What between pelting the military, smashing the booths, and scattering the tallies, we managed to keep up such confusion, that our adversaries could hardly bring forward a man. If dispersed by a charge of cavalry here, we were rallied in a few minutes in the next street, cracking heads and crashing windows: if routed by the riot act and a row of bayonets, before the sheriff was well round the corner we had a house pulled down to the tune of "Hurrah for Killnacoppal!" At last, all human means being found unavailable by our opponents to bring in a freeholder, the booths were closed, and Mr. Denis Darcey declared duly elected.
After such feats, how could it be wondered at that I was
"courted and caressed,
High placed in halls a welcome guest;"
seated within seven of the chairman at the election dinner, drank wine with the new member, toasted by the old one, I mean Dick Martin-and embraced by Blakes, Brownes, and Bodkins in endless variety?—Nor did the reward of "high desert" end here; for in the next gazette I was appointed to a lieutenancy in the South Mayo militia.
With very different feelings I now returned to my paternal mansion-1, who had left the little lawyer in Dorset Street in disgrace, and been happy to effect a sort of felonious re-entry of the premises at Killnacoppal-I now came home a conqueror; an hundred blackthorns rattled above my head; an hundred voices yelled "Kinnidy for ivir!"- -a keg of poteen was broached before the door; a stack of turf was blazing in the village; and all was triumph and exultation. We had brought back, of course, the usual assortment of broken bones, left some half-score damaged skulls to be repaired at the expense of the county, and carried back one gentleman totally defunct, who had been suffocated by tumbling dead drunk into a bog-hole. My fame had travelled before me, and my aunt Macan had taken to her bed not from vanity, but "vexation of spirit."
My leave of absence expired, and I set out to join my regiment. My mother consulted
For the second time I left my father's house. The head-quarters of the regiment were in Naas, and there I arrived in safety; was recognized by Captain Rattigan; presented by him in due form to the colonel; introduced to the corps; paid plate and band-fund fees; dined at the mess; got drunk there as became a soldier of promise, and was carried home to my inn by a file of the guard, after having overheard the fat major remark to my kinsman-"Rat, that boy of yours will be a credit to the regiment; for as I'm a true Catholic, he has taken off three bottles of Page's port, and no doubt he'll improve."
A year passed over-I conducted myself creditably in all regimental matters, touching drill duty and drinking, when an order suddenly came for a detachment to march to Ballybunnion; in the neighbourhood of which town the pleasant part of the population were amusing themselves nightly in carding middlemen, and feathering tithe proctors. Captain Rattigan's company (in which I was an unworthy lieutenant) was selected for this important service.
The morning I left Naas for Ballybunnion will be a memorable day in the calendar of my life. My cousin Rattigan frequently boasted, after dinner, that "he was under fifty, and above five feet three;" but there were persons in the corps who alleged that he was above the former and under the latter:-but let that pass-he is now, honest man, quietly resting in Craughane churchyard, with half a ton weight of Connemara marble over him, on which his virtues and his years are recorded.
Now, without stopping to ascertain minutely the age and height of the departed, I shall describe him as a thick square-shouldered undersized man, having a short neck, and snub-nose -the latter organ fully attesting that Page's port was a sound and well-bodied liquor. The
captain, on his pied pony, rode gallantly on at the head of "his charge:" I modestly followed on foot-and late in the evening we marched in full array down the main street of Ballybunnion, our fife and drum playing to the best of their ability the captain's favourite quick step, "I'm over young to marry yet."
O'Brien, Captain Kennedy." I bowed-she ducked-seized my offered hand, and in a few minutes we were going down the middle like two-year-olds for "the Kirwans." Nor had Captain Rattigan been neglected by the master of the ceremonies: he was snugly seated in a quiet corner at cribbage, a game the commander delighted in, with an elderly gentlewoman, whom my partner informed me was her aunt.
My kinsman and I were peaceably settled over our wine, when the waiter announced that a gentleman had called upon us. was shown up in proper form; and having managed by depressing his person, which was fully six feet four inches, to enter the apartment he announced himself as Mr. Christopher Clinch; and in a handsome speech, declared himself to be an ambassador from the stewards of the Ballybunnion coterie; which coterie being to be holden that evening, he was deputed to solicit the honour of our company on this occasion. Captain Rattigan returned our acknowledgments duly; and he and the ambassador having discussed a cooper of port within a marvellous short period, separated with many squeezes of the hand, and ardent hopes of a future acquaintance.
There was a subject my kinsman invariably dwelt upon whenever he had transgressed the third bottle-it was a bitter lamentation over the numerous opportunities he had suffered to escape of making himself comfortable for life, by matrimony. As we dressed together, for we were cantoned in a double-bedded room, Rat was unusually eloquent on the grand mistake of his earlier days, and declared his determination of even yet endeavouring to amend his youthful error, and retrieve lost time.
The commander's advice was not lost upon I took unusual pains in arraying myself for conquest, and in good time found myself in the ball-room, with thirty couples on the floor all dancing "for the bare life," that admired tune of "Blue bonnets over the border."
The attention evinced in his visit to the inn by Mr. Christopher Clinch was not confined to a formal invitation; for he assured us on our arrival, that two ladies had been expressly kept disengaged for us. Captain Rattigan declined dancing, alleging that exercise flurried him, and he could not abide a red face, it looked so very like dissipation. I, whose countenance was fortunately not so inflammable as my kinsman's, was marshalled by Mr. Clinch to the head of the room. "He was going," he said, "to introduce me to Miss Jemima O'Brien -lady of first connections-large fortune when some persons at present in possession dropped off fine woman-much followed-sprightly -off-handed-fond of military men. Miss
Miss O'Brien was what Rattigan called a spanker. She was dressed in a blue silk lutestring gown, with a plume of ostrich feathers, flesh-coloured stockings, and red satin shoes. She had the usual assortment of beads and curls, with an ivory fan, and a well-scented handkerchief.
She was evidently a fine-tempered girl; for, observing my eye rest on an immense stain upon her blue lutestring, she remarked with a smile, "that her aunt's footman had spilled some coffee on her dress, and to save him from a scolding, she had assured the dear old lady that the injury was trifling, and that it would be quite unnecessary to detain her while she should change her gown: it was quite clear she never could wear it again; but her maid and the milliner would be the gainers. Amiable creature! -the accident did not annoy her for a second.
The first dance had concluded, when the long gentleman whispered softly over my shoulder, how I liked "the heiress?" The heiress!-I felt a faint hope rising in my breast which made my cheek colour like a peony. Rattigan's remorse for neglected opportunities rushed to my mind. Had my lucky hour come? And had I actually an heiress by the hand for nine-and-twenty couples? We were again at the head of the room, and away we went she cutting and I capering, until we danced to the very bottom, shakes the barley!”
The wind that
I had placed Miss O'Brien with great formality on a bench, when Rattigan took me aside:
"Frank, you're a fortunate fellow, or it's your own fault-found out all from the old one lovely creature-great catch-who knows? strike while the iron is hot," &c. &c. &c. Fortune indeed appeared to smile upon me. By some propitious accident all the men had been provided with partners, and I had the heiress to myself. She was, she confessed, romantie -she had quite a literary turn; spoke of Lady Morgan's Wild Irish Girl; she loved it-doted upon it;—and why should she not? for Lieutenant-colonel Cassidy had repeatedly sworn that Glorvina was written for herself;"-and she raised her fan
"The conscious blush to hide "
"In peace love tunes the shepherd's reed." "And could she love?"-I whispered with a look of tender inquietude. "She could; she had a heart, she feared, too warm for her hap-rive piness: she was a creature of imaginationall soul-all sympathy. She could wander
with the man of her heart from
for a poor lieutenant-as he shrewdly observed,
Next morning-the morning of that day
Captain Rattigan and I were sitting at an early
While he spoke the trooper entered. "Ah! Ratty, old boy, how wags the world?--Just heard you had been sent here to exterminate carders-cursed scoundrels!-obliged me to leave a delightful party at Lord Tara's; but, Rat, we'll make them smoke for it."
'Mr. Bircham, my cousin Kennedy. Come, cornet, off with the scimitar and attack the congo. Any news stirring?"
"Nothing but a flying report that you had determined on sobriety and forsworn a drop beyond the third bottle;-but that shake in your claw gives a lie direct to the tale. And you were dancing, Rat, last night. How did the carnival or coterie go off? Any wigs lost or gowns tattered? Any catastrophe?" Why, no- - pleasant thing enough-some fine women there."
She sighed deeply-kept her fan to her face for some moments-and, in a voice of peculiar softness, murmured something about "short acquaintance," with a gentle supplication to be allowed time for ten minutes to consult her heart. Rat again rushed to my mind; procrastination had ruined him; I was obdurate -pressed―raved-ranted-till she sighed, in a timid whisper, that she was mine for ever! Heavens! was I awake?-did my ears deceive me? The room turned topsy-turvy the candles danced a reel-my brain grew giddy -it was true-absolutely true; Jemima O'Brien had consented to become Mrs. Kennedy!
Up came Captain Rattigan, as my partner left me for an instant to speak to her aunt. Rat was thunderstruck-cursed his fate, and complimented mine. "But, zounds! Frank, you must stick to her. Would she run away with you? These d- lawyers will be tying up the property, so that you cannot touch a guinea but the half-year's rent-may be inquiring about settlements, and ripping up the cursed mortgages of Killnacoppal. At her, man-they are all on the move. I'll manage the old one:-mighty lucky, by-the-by, at cribbage. Try and get the heiress to be off-tomorrow, if possible-early hour. Oh! murder -how I lost my time!"
All was done as the commander directed. Rat kept the aunt in play while I pressed the heiress hard-and so desperately did I portray my misery, that, to save my life, she humanely consented to elope with me at twelve o'clock next day. Rattigan was enraptured. What a chance tress."
"Were there, faith? Why, Rat, you're a
Miss Jemmy O'Brien, as the men call her. Why, Rat, what iniquity of yours has delivered you into the hands of the most detestable harpy that ever infested country quarters?"
"Detestable harpy!"-Rat and I looked cursedly foolish. Bircham-hem!-are you sure you know the lady?"
"Know the lady! to be sure I do. Why, she did me out of an ivory fan one unlucky wet day that the devil tempted me to enter Mrs. Cogan's den. Phoo! I'll give you what the beadle calls 'marks and tokens.' Let me see. -Yes-I have it-blue dress, cursedly splashed with beer-she says coffee; soiled feathers, and tricked out like a travelling ac